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Saturday, September 4, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Salvadoran Gets 8 1/2 Years For 13-Year-Old Girl's Death -- Murder Charge Reduced To Manslaughter

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

An illegal immigrant from El Salvador has been sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison for his role in the death of a 13-year-old girl.

Javier Deleon was dismayed yesterday when King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler sentenced him to the maximum term for first-degree manslaughter.

Deleon told Kessler that when he agreed to an Alford plea, he thought he would be sentenced to a maximum of 6 1/2 years.

An Alford plea means Deleon does not admit guilt but is pleading guilty because he believes he would be convicted if the case went to trial.

Deleon had been charged with second-degree murder, largely based on a confession to Seattle police at the time of his arrest.

But because police didn't allow him to contact an attorney when he asked, the charge was renegotiated, said his attorney, Jackie Walsh, and his earlier confession was not allowed as evidence.

She said that after Deleon was arrested outside a restaurant where he worked, he was turned over to Immigration and Naturalization Service agents, who detained him for more than a month.

Walsh said Deleon had not met with an attorney until he was charged with murder, nearly 1 1/2 months after his arrest.

Dan Satterburg, chief of staff for the the King County Prosecutor's Office, said the charges were reduced because of evidence problems.

Deleon pleaded guilty to killing Kavita Babber and dumping her body down a storm drain in Northgate last September.

According to court records, Deleon, then 20, and the girl got drunk and he had sex with her. When she became loud and argumentative, he choked her to quiet her.

The cause of the girl's death is in dispute. Experts for the defense say she may have died of intoxication. She had a 0.17 percent blood-alcohol level at the time of her death. At the time, the state considered a person too impaired to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent.

An expert for the prosecution said she died of homicidal violence.

In sentencing Deleon, Kessler said two lives had been wasted that day last September - Deleon's and Babber's.

Kessler read a letter from the girl's mother, who called her "very caring and so young" and the product of a family that had been "in crisis for many years."

The girl's grandmother said in another letter: "I don't hate Javier. I will be praying for his soul."

When Deleon completes his term, he faces deportation back to El Salvador.

Nancy Bartley's phone message number is 206-515-5039. Her e-mail address is nbartley@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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